"Tonight I thought (Powe) was terrific," said coach Doc Rivers. "We made a concerted effort to get him the ball in the post in that one stretch in the first quarter, and when he came in the second quarter he responded. So it was great. I thought that first six minutes of the game we established no post game. We actually had to go to Leon to establish a post game."
The Celts bench was filling up the entire boxscore, to the tune of 13 of the Celtics 34 points in the critical second quarter, and 35 points on the night. But it was Powe that did most of the heavy lifting. The Cal alum finished with 21 points, also drawing seven fouls (he went 9-of-13 from the charity stripe) that helped put and keep the Lakers in foul trouble all night.
Powe continued his brilliance in the second half, bringing down the house with back-to-back jams at the end of the third quarter and opening the fourth quarter with a driving layup, two free throws and a nasty jam right through the lane that put the Celtics up 22. The Lakers would later rally and cut that lead all the way to two, but could never fully recover.
"Leon's minutes fluctuated a lot during the playoffs and there's been some DNPs he's got, but he's always prepared," said P.J. Brown. "He's a consummate professional, and to see him have the type of game he had tonight, I was definitely happy for him and was just flying high with him. It was a game of all games, and it will be a game to remember. He deserves it. He's a good man, and I'm sure he's got a few more left in him."
Powe was averaging only 4.6 points per game in the playoffs coming into the game, but he gave Rivers no choice but to keep him on the floor as much as possible Sunday night. His nine minutes from Game 1 ballooned to over 14 in Game 2.
"I just know Coach called my number," Powe said. "He put me in the game and he called a couple post ups for me and I knew I had to deliver."
The plus/minus statistic might be better known for it's use in Bruins games, but it crystallizes why Powe and the entire Celtics bench pushed them over the top in Game 2. Boston's bench was plus-40 in the first half, and, with Powe and Brown leading the way, finished an impressive plus-30.
It wasn't supposed to be like this, it was the Lakers who were supposed to have the game-changing bench. But on the floor none of that mattered, as the Celtics depth asserted itself early and often.
"You heard it all across the news and the media saying that they had a better bench, but you've just got to go out there and play the game," Brown said. "People are going to make predictions and stuff like that, and I didn't hear Leon say much about it and I didn't talk much about it. We were just going to go out there and do what we know we can do, and that's what we did tonight."
Here's a prediction: The Celtics bench won't be underestimated again.
The Truth About Who Takes the Shot:
With the Big Three it's often been asked who takes the critical shot late in the game. With the Lakers within two and under a minute left it was Paul Pierce who had the rock in his hand. The Truth slashed through the lane, drew a foul and calmly drained both free throws to make it a two possession game. The Lakers would get no closer.
A Collective Sigh of Relief:
Celtics fans across the country all could take a deep breath and relax their worst injury-related fears from the opening tip. Kendrick Perkins, he of the high-ankle sprain, skyed high for the jump ball and knocked it into the waiting arms of Kevin Garnett. Perkins also hit a jumper in the post early in the first and seemed no worse for the wear.
Pierce was able to get off early as well, going 5-for-9 from the field and hitting all three treys he took in the first half. Pierce, whose first three with less then two minutes gone in the game sent the arena into frenzy, finished with 28.
Need proof that the fans in Boston aren't just at The Garden because it's the place to be this time of year? When Powe drew a foul with 10:07 remaining in the second quarter, giving the Lakers four team fouls -- meaning the next foul would put the Lakers over the limit and the Celtics would be shooting free throws for the rest of the quarter -- the crowd erupted almost immediately. How many arenas would be paying that close attention to see the intricacies of the NBA's foul rules?
People in the Hub know their basketball.
Written on board in Celtics Locker room before the game: Set screens, bigs and smalls. The Pierce foul that sealed the game came off a screen.....Red Sox pitcher and cancer survivor John Lester was honored on the court as a "Hero Among Us".....Former Celtic Antoine Walker was in attendance, sitting next to Red Sox slugger David Ortiz.....The series now moves to L.A. for Games 3, 4 and 5 (if necessary).